Oakland, CA —
If you’re a creative pursuing a life of profiting off your art, there comes a point where you have to figure out how to get paid for your work and what that price point is. The key to pricing your work is determining how much you think your art is worth, and how you are going to negotiate that price with people who you decide to work with. It can be hard for some creatives to navigate the business side of things, but if you follow the guidelines I have outlined below, you can start orienting yourself on how to price your work.
Determine Your Price Point
What went into creating your work and what do you believe the value of that is? How many hours or resources does it take to create a piece?
When producing your art, you must consider how long it took to create the finished product and what went into making it. When charging a customer, they are paying for your intellectual property as well as how long it took you to create it. Another way to look at it is that they are paying for the amount of time it took to perfect your craft over the years. When you start a new job, the company is usually required to pay you for the hours that you spent training. So the price point for your work should take into consideration all of the nights you went without sleep and for the hours and hours you spent in front of your computer working to master your craft. Calculate these different factors and come to a conclusion of what's a reasonable price for you to charge. You can also do research to see what other professionals in your field with your level of experience are charging so you get a ballpark reference number. Once your price is set in your mind, make it a personal goal to never settle for less than you deserve and be mindful of when to grow this over time as you continue to develop your craft.
Develop Strong & Smart Business Negotiation Skills + Understand When an Opportunity Might Be More Valuable Than an Upfront Cost
It is important to understand how to navigate cases where you should be flexible with your price and times you should stick to charging your full rate. On the one hand, bigger entities love to prey on smaller artists — they flash money in your face knowing that $1000 is nothing to them. With your work, they could make 3x the amount they paid for it. So when you decide to work with bigger corporations, keep that in mind, negotiate your terms wisely and don't let them take advantage of you.
But while it is important to stand confidently in the value of your work, it is also important to understand how to negotiate on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation. Collaborations could go in many different directions and play different roles in your success, even if you aren't getting paid your highest price point.
Say you’re a producer and you link up with an artist that you really believe in. You both believe that working together can take you to the next level, but maybe that artist doesn't have the budget to pay you your full producer fee. Charging that artist full price might not actually be in your best interest if that means losing the collaboration opportunity.
It’s not always about making money, you should constantly be creating different opportunities for yourself, as well as different ways to maximize your work. For example, if you’re still an up-and-coming artist/producer, sending your beats to well-known artists could get you placements on a song or album. Placements are a really good way to gather more exposure. They’ll take your work to places you never would have thought of before. Overall, when it comes to working with potential artists, don’t act stingy. Most likely the benefits of working with them will outway the cost.
For example, you could sell your beat to an artist or you can invite them to the studio and create new music from scratch while building a relationship with them. This way of making music can be less transactional — you create a relationship with the artist and you’ll both be invested in the music.
As a smart business-minded artist, you have to figure out how to gauge what is the most valuable part of a working relationship — is it getting paid upfront, or is it building together over time? Every case is going to be different. If you go around always looking to make a quick buck you might be shooting yourself in the foot and missing out on beneficial relationship-building opportunities.
Build a Team of Professionals Around You to Help You Hold People Accountable for Paying You
When you eventually get to the point where you are negotiating multiple deals, it can be a smart move to start building a team of professionals around you to be your business backup. This will make the process of determining how to price your work a lot easier because you have people to help negotiate on your behalf. Additionally, having a lawyer or manager to advise you on deal terms can make life easier when it comes to difficult situations in the music business.
Obviously, do your research and make sure whoever you are bringing on to fill these roles are trustworthy and respectful people that you feel have your best interests in mind. But having a lawyer and a manager on your team will allow you to focus on the music side of things while they handle the negotiations and read the complicated paperwork. Before someone can approach you with an offer, individuals will have to go through your manager or lawyer first. This means you don’t have to waste your time and energy on unnecessary conversations — your managers and lawyers will make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve, make plays that would benefit your career and keep you focused on your goals.
Overall, when it comes to pricing your work, the decision is left up to you. Whether you want to sell your beats for $500 or $25, it’s your choice. We are just here to guide you and help you navigate the music world. This article is not to convince you to change your prices but to re-evaluate them so you can further your career.